By David Aldridge, TNT analyst
Posted Dec 18 2010 4:13PM
The Washington Wizards and Orlando Magic are close to a trade that will send guard Gilbert Arenas to Orlando in exchange for forward Rashard Lewis, a league source tells TNT's David Aldridge.
The proposed trade was expected to be completed Saturday, perhaps before the Wizards played the Miami Heat Saturday evening in Washington and the Magic host the 76ers in Orlando.
The deal would rid the Wizards of one of their biggest public relations headaches in years. While Arenas helped Washington make the playoffs for the first time in a decade and became an All-Star playing alongside Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison, his infamous suspension for bringing guns into the Verizon Center locker room last December as part of a prank and/or confrontation with then-teammate Javaris Crittenton cast a shadow over the franchise. Arenas was suspended by Commissioner David Stern for the final 50 games of last season and served time in a halfway house in the D.C. suburbs after pleading guilty to one felony count of carrying a pistol without a license.
Arenas returned to the Wizards this season and has played reasonably well, averaging 17.3 points and 5.6 assists for Washington. He would give Orlando someone who can create for himself and others off the dribble, something the Magic have sorely lacked this season as they has struggled at times against the league's better teams. And Arenas' close relationship with Orlando GM Otis Smith, who mentored Arenas while the two were in Golden State, has been well-documented.
Lewis is averaging his lowest point total in a decade for Orlando this season, scoring just 12.2 points a night on 41 percent shooting from the floor. He has struggled at times making the adjustment to playing more small forward this season than he has for the Magic; he thrived as a "stretch four" power forward playing next to center Dwight Howard in previous seasons, but the Magic has opted to give emerging forward Brandon Bass more minutes at that position this season.
The deal could save Washington at least $24 million; Arenas has four years and $80 million remaining on his $111 million deal signed two years ago, while Lewis has three years and $63 million left on the $124 million deal he signed as a free agent in 2007. But only $10 million of the $22.6 million he is owed in the final year of the contract, in 2012-13, is fully guaranteed. Lewis can increase the guarantee if he meets certain performance criteria between now and then.
Though rumors about an Orlando acquisition of Arenas have been circulating for weeks, the increase in intensity in trade discussions between the two teams was first reported Friday night by Yahoo! Sports.
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